Two rehearsals done already, and it feels very… odd. I braid my hair to start to both set the tone and theme – 3 generations, woven. This ritual is also to give me something to do, to settle my mind and connect to myself before moving.
For the past nine months I was working on ‘The Ghomeshi Effect‘; a piece for six actors on how sexual violence is treated in the justice system, with the text coming from interviews with real folks. It was an intense and beautiful process, and many people feel encouraged, connected, and more willing to tackle the very real problem of sexual violence in it’s many forms and communities here in Canada.
Now here I am. Alone. In a studio with loads of ideas, but so much space. So little noise. Except I’m not alone; I’m inviting my Grandmother, my Baba, and my mother into the process.
This new self-choreographed contemporary dance solo is coming out of questions about my cultural identity in the current world, who I am as a woman, what stories and presence am I carrying with me from my ancestors, and frankly a response from losing my maternal Grandmother this year. I will be looking into themes of epigenetics, Ukrainian migration to Canada, U.K. thematics learned from my Grandmother and mother, what it means to come from a colonizer country (I was born in England) versus having oppressed Ukrainian heritage in my DNA, and taking inspiration and re-writing some of my mother’s poetry from her 1994 publication ‘Warm Bodies, Foreign Parts’ which involves some similar themes.
A big and deep undertaking. How to enter this massive undertaking, this meaningful work? Well, since I am a movement creator, I started there.
My first rehearsal was spent improvising. I filmed these improvisations in order to capture some movement. These four improvisations were based on two poems, a response to a song that I love, exploring epigenetics through Matryoshka dolls, and trying to tie together some Ukrainian dance steps with my contemporary and ballet training. It honestly doesn’t look great, but it gives me a base to work off.
My second rehearsal was spent analyzing two of these improvisations and picking out the movements that I like to make one longer phrase of movement. I have included in this post a cherry-pick of some of the movements I wish to move forward with, as well as my braids from this week. Here is a link to watch the video of my favourite movements from the long phrase!
Welcome to this work, I hope you enjoy following along on the journey. Many thanks to the ladies at Ottawa Dance Directive/Centre de danse contemporain for their ongoing and generous support.
With love, Amelia